In May 2009, the Primary Industries Ministerial Council endorsed the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock and tasked Animal Health Australia (AHA) to develop a science-based standard for the maximum allowable time off feed (TOF) for the management of bobby calves. Since this time, an Australian scientific study on calf welfare during transport has been completed.
The associated Regulation Impact Analysis (RIS) recommended that on balance a mandatory standard for maximum time off feed, in addition to existing transport welfare standards for bobby calves, was the best option to further minimise risks to calf welfare. Based on cost-benefit, similar animal welfare benefits demonstrated by the relevant scientific studies and predicted national regulatory consistency, 30 hours TOF was recommended as the outer, enforceable limit.
As part of the process for developing the standard, a Decision RIS was developed and endorsed by the Commonwealth Office of Best Practice Regulation. The Decision RIS assessed the proposed standard and incorporated the relevant feedback.
Ministers discussed and recommended a mandatory standard for the maximum TOF for bobby calves at the 21st Primary Industries Ministerial Council meeting in October 2011, but could not reach agreement. All industries involved in the bobby calf supply chain (that is dairy farmers, livestock agents, calf buyers and transporters and calf processors) have agreed to implement a national industry standard that sets a limit of 30 hours TOF for calves aged 5 to 30 days which are being transported without their mothers. This industry standard matched the only other international standard (New Zealand) for a maximum time off feed.
An extensive stakeholder consultation for the proposed TOF standard for bobby calves ran for 30 days in January to February 2012.
Views were sought from targeted stakeholders about how the proposed standard amendment to SB4.5 in Chapter B4 in the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Land Transport of Livestock (specifying requirements for bobby calves for a maximum of 30 hours without a liquid feed from the time of last feeding to the next feed or slaughter of the calf) contributed to the protection of calves’ welfare while being transported.
Stakeholders gave feedback before finalisation of the Standard. The following Bobby Calf TOF Consultation Report provides a summary of the invited comments and submissions received during the consultation period and the subsequent consideration and changes made.